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Aug 2007
Author[s]! Author[s]!
Posted in Uncategorized by Tita Becky at 8:31 pm | Comments Off on Author[s]! Author[s]!

This has reference to the article titled “English Lost in Translation in Philippines” by Carlos H. Conde published in the International Herald Tribune, Business section in its August 13, 2007 issue. Get the full article here.

The above article is supporting the campaign of Antonio Calipjo Go against carelessly written/edited textbooks in the country. Mr Go is a highly regarded academician and a supervisor in Marian School, Quezon City. “I pity our children who are being fed these errors,” he said in an interview. “This is one of the reasons why the level of education in our country is worsening.”

I would like to say I am glad he cites badly written textbooks as just one of the reasons for the worsening of the level of education in this country. There are several reasons we can fault for this decline in our system of education, and putting out erroneous textbooks is just one isolated issue — but this is yet another matter altogether that we will not dwell into in this article. Let us concentrate on the issue at hand: erroneous and badly written textbooks.

Considering that Go’s campaign has been going on for so many years now (I remember I first heard of his name and his campaign some over-15 years ago, when my own kids were still in elementary and high school), our children’s teachers must have benefitted from such shockingly atrocious textbooks and they are passing on the wisdom they learned to our children now — I think it is safe to conclude this since, ‘ey, we have not been hearing teachers complaining about the materials they are using as teaching aids, are we? They do not complain; instead, they are quietly and subserviently continuing to use the erroneous and stupidly written textbooks through these years as aids in educating our children. So they found nothing wrong with the way the textbooks were written?

English not being our native tongue is not a valid excuse for putting out bad textbooks written in English. As a second language in this country (a first language in some households), English must not be bastardized and must be treated with respect, especially in printed references. It is stupid to say it is a trend, and the language must grow — it is not our place to make a second language grow, for one thing, since it is not our native language in the first place. If it must grow, it must grow in its own point of origin. Don’t you agree?

Questions come to my mind with this issue, and one of them is why are we changing our textbooks in all subjects much too often?

When we say we lack textbooks, it could mean we need to print more of the well-researched and well-written textbooks to provide for the lack of this teaching aid in schools in the deeper recesses of this country and benefit more children — not really rewrite what has been correctly written. After all, the children in this country multiply amazingly fast, and we need more schools, more classrooms, more [good] teachers and more textbooks. Could I be correct? The humongous budget for textbooks must not be unscrupulously spent [wasted?] in this manner because we are endangering our children in school in this formative years of their lives.

I could understand that we can have several authors write several books for some specific subjects, like science and technology, to inject new facts and new discoveries to update our textbook; but there are subjects whose textbooks don’t need to be written every so often and by different authors, like our English, Filipino and math textbooks, unless there are new developments. Our Philippine history textbooks must NEVER be rewritten several times and by different authors to suit these authors’ own personal perspectives — to do so would be *interpreting* history and that is not good because NO ONE is authorized, and quite a few are qualified, to do that. History books could only be updated based on various references of actual events, like the archived chronicles of important turning points in our history; new findings that would drastically change what has been written must be issued in another book of, say, errata, instead of rewriting the entire history books and commit a chain of errors in the process, inadvertently (typos) or deliberately (as small gods are wont to do). Tsk… I could just imagine and pity the ETs (extraterrestrials) who, in the future, would get hold of our history textbooks and get confused by the different facts and figures in different books they could dig up in our archives — why, they would probably feel their common sense being threatened and promptly zoom out of this place to preserve their sanity!

One more thing I could not even pretend to understand is the smugness of the officials in our department of [mis]education who do not even mask their indignation with these attacks that Mr Go is doing against the glaringly erroneous textbooks that they are distributing to our schools. Why are they angry with Mr Go who is painstakingly pointing out these errors to the public, when they refused to pay attention to him when he tried to do so with them in private?

There are so many other things that’s bugging me with our system of education, and those would warrant more articles in that direction. Hmm… I think I should dedicate a category in this blog for “Concerns in Philippine Education,” and publish issues there about stagnation of the system and blatant corruption. Now, there’s a thought…

Oh, and before I leave this subject, there is one thing I am looking for in some articles that lift excerpts from Mr Antonio Go’s long article– some writers fail to cite the subject, title, edition, author and publisher of the book. THOSE are important to me so I could isolate the bad seeds from the good ones, so please do not forget to lift those pertinent data, too, when you quote excerpts from Mr Go’s expose? We do not wish to make a blanket accusation here, do we?

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